Day 091: Broad Haven to Whitesands Bay
Distance: 23.52 miles
Ascent: 10214 feet
Weather: Rain heavier in Afternoon, Windy all Day
Accommodation: Yewdale Cottage
When I woke up it appeared the weather report was correct with the rain pouring down and the wind rattling the window of my room. It was forecast to be very heavy till lunchtime and then lighter in the afternoon. I packed all my kit in extreme wet weather set up and headed down for breakfast. After breakfast I set off and fortunately the rain had eased down to a light shower.
As I climbed the first hill out of Broad Haven the rain lightened even further to a light drizzle, but it became clear the massive downpour that had started yesterday evening was going to make this first bit a slight challenge with the path saturated. There were a fair few parts where streams had formed across the path, and the first couple were either shallow enough to walk across or narrow enough to jump across. But then there was a new formed stream slowly washing part of a farmers field and the path away, that was clearly too deep (maybe above knee in middle) and several meters across in total. I couldn’t go upstream due to the barbed wire fence around the farmers field, so only had about 25m downstream before it became a waterfall as the water shot straight of the cliff, to try and find a way across. I fortunately found a spot with sort of two islands of grass that were just jumpable and though the water still came up my boots about 6 inches nothing actually came in, and I made it to the other side.
The path continued and amazingly contrary to forecast the rain had completely stopped. The path joins a road near Druidston before heading back down a stream to Druidston Haven where the path crosses at the pebble beach what I presume is normally a babbling brook though today was a torrenting river, and regardless of the depth (way above knee) and width (only a few meters) there would be no way I would get across this even taking my boots of and wading as I would just have got knocked over by the power of the water. So I scrambled through the bracken up the side of the stream looking for a crossing point and a few hundred meters upstream came to a very old bridge (photo below), made up of three railway sleepers that had all semi collapsed into the water, but I decided even though the wood was green and very slippy that this was my only route across so went for it and safely got across.
Fortunately, from this point though there were some extremely muddy points and a few slightly flooded sections, with a bit of care they were all fairly easily passed. The path drops down to Nolton Haven, a picturesque pebbly bay, with a pub and a few presumably mostly holiday houses. From here the path climbs up and straight back down to the long expanse of Newgale Sands. I stuck to the road behind the embankment, rather than on the pebbly beach to get some respite from the wind, but the road was flooded in a few parts easy to get passed on foot, but it was funny to see a man get out of a car check with a stick the depth of the water before driving through after 2 cars had driven across before him.
By the time I reached Newgale I was already 30 minutes behind my expected time and as I was meeting my brother, Emily and Arthur in Solva (about 4 miles away) had to message through to say conditions were slowing me down a bit but would hopefully only be half an hour late. In fact the stretch from Newgale to Solva had no major issues, though there were some very steep stepped climbs. This section was very attractive, and I really enjoyed it even whilst being battered by the wind. The approach to Solva itself is quite fun firstly dropping down to a little bay and crossing a small footbridge before climbing up another small headland and slowly descending first on path and then along the shingle edge of the stream to cross another bridge right next to the pub. It was great to arrive here and I met Claude, Emily & Arthur in a little café and the rain literally started to pour just as I entered.
After having some lunch Claude and I set off, and Emily took Arthur back and would kindly be picking us up later. Unfortunately, the weather had taken a bit of a turn for the worse and was raining moderately hard, and the wind was still fairly strong. This stage was very scenic and fortunately the path conditions were not too bad. After a few climbs we were at Caerfai Bay, where the path skirts around the back of the cliffs and a few miles later we dropped down to Porth Clais. This was an interesting small quay with several restored lime kilns. We took a short snack break here as it was out of the wind and the rain had stopped for a while, and Claude had bought a thermos of soup which was a nice treat.
After our break the path continued on and as we approached the headland across from Ramsey Island, the terrain changed dramatically to a very eerie bog, quite reminiscent of the Peak District and in the drizzle and grey conditions was particularly dramatic and actually quite stunning.
The path now headed north passing two very impressive lifeboat launch ramps/boathouses at St Justinian’s, and then it was a fairly short final walk down to Whitesands Bay where Emily was waiting to pick us up.
After a long wet, windy day I was glad to end up sat by a fire and it is great to be staying with Claude, Emily & Arthur for my rest day. They also cooked me a lovely dinner.